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Western Balkans Regional Hub Kosovo City Roundtable

— 1 minutes reading time

In March 2023, the Strong Cities Network Western Balkans Regional Hub, in partnership with the Municipality of Prishtina, hosted a Kosovo City Roundtable. The event brought together municipal leaders, practitioners, civil society representatives and international donor community members from Kosovo to discuss the role of mayors and the local governments they lead in safeguarding their communities from extremist and hate-motivated violence. With support from the US Department of State, the roundtable aimed to assess the threat landscape affecting cities in Kosovo, explore their needs to effectively address hate, extremism and polarisation on a local level, and introduce the Western Balkans Regional Hub and its pillars, which are designed to help amplify existing and catalyse new city-led prevention initiatives.

A central focus of the roundtable was on mapping city prevention needs in Kosovo and consolidating local government insights and perspectives to inform the Western Balkans Regional Hub’s workplan moving forward. Тwo primary themes arose from these exchanges. First, city representatives elaborated on the lack of a clear mandate for local governments to lead prevention efforts. As a result of this, participants agreed local prevention work hinges heavily on political will of municipal leaders, while inadequate national-local coordination further impede efforts of cities to engage, let alone lead, on prevention.

Second, participants emphasised the lack of capacities on a local level to develop strategies, implement programs, reach out to marginalised groups, and build a comprehensive understanding of the hate and extremist landscape. To address some of these issues, the participants agreed that there is a need to develop guides and onboarding documents for incoming mayors on addressing these challenges. Furthermore, participants underscored the need for training of designated municipal staff that would lead and coordinate the work of local multi-stakeholder prevention mechanisms. Lastly, participants highlighted the need for strengthened national-local coordination, especially at a time when Kosovo’s new National Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) Strategy is being updated.